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The recurring slope lineae on Mars have been hypothesized to originate from snow melting, deliquescence, dry flow or shallow
groundwater. Except for the dry flow origin, these hypotheses imply the presence of surficial or near-surface volatiles, placing
the exploration and characterization of potential habitable environments within the reach of existing technology. Here we present observations from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, heat-flow modelling and terrestrial analogues, which
indicate that the source of recurring slope lineae could be natural discharge along geological structures from briny aquifers
within the cryosphere, at depths of approximately 750 m. Spatial correlation between recurring slope lineae source regions and
multi-scale fractures (such as joints and faults) in the southern mid-latitudes and in Valles Marineris suggests that recurring
slope lineae preferably emanate from tectonic and impact-related fractures. We suggest that deep groundwater occasionally
surfaces on Mars in present-day conditions.